The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has condemned an upsurge in violence in parts of South Sudan.
The body monitoring South Sudan’s peace deal says violence has displaced more than 50 000 people since the beginning of the year.
Africa’s newest nation plunged into civil war in December 2013 after a long-running feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Fighting continues unabated with more people killed and thousands displaced.
This is a cause for concern to the chair of the JMEC.
Former President of Botswana and Chair of the JMEC, Festus Mogae says, “I am also dismayed at the continuing conflict in Equatoria and the appalling outbreak of the violence in Wau and Upper Nile over the past two weeks. The recent fighting around Malakal and Renk was a blatant violation of the ceasefire. Individually and collectively JMEC condemns the violence.”
Last year President Kiir proposed a government-backed national dialogue that aims to win over hostile areas of the country. It is proposed to kick off in March.
“We urge the Transitional Government of National Unity, IGAD and the international community to take advantage of President Salva Kiir’s national dialogue initiative and reach out to the estranged parties and their followers. For dialogue to have a real meaning and effect it must include more than those who already agree with the government, and take account of all views and concerns,” says Mogae.
Mogae appealed for the urgent deployment of a 4000 strong Regional Protection Force as approved by the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
There are currently some 13 700 UN troops and police on the ground.
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s government has indicated that it cannot allow the country to be put under trusteeship.
“It is our right, it is our country. We fought for it. We achieved the independence through referendum. The people of South Sudan decided for the country. So nobody is better than the people of South Sudan,” says the spokesman of President Salva Kiir, Ateny Wek Ateny.
Ateny says putting South Sudan under UN trusteeship means that the UN governs the country for a specific period of time before handing governance back to South Sudanese.
– By Lehana Tsotetsi